In my previous post in this category, First things first, I mentioned the wisdom of choosing a working title for a project before beginning to write, best practice down to the level of producing shopping lists…
Things without which I will not go home,” subtitle, “If I have any sense.”
After two years of (mostly) satisfying effort, Jeremiah’s Last Call has finally been published. I say “finally” because it would have been much less of a struggle had I only followed the above-mentioned rule wholeheartedly. Its logic is simple. It makes no sense to write about a subject, the soul of which has not yet been determined; a bit like building a treehouse in one’s garage while planning to find a perch for it later.
A good working title sets limits on a project and provides important hints about what it’s meant to accomplish. Late in 2019, aware but unable to comply, I began writing Jeremiah’s Last Call under the overly ambitious working title, Jeremiah, which accomplished neither.
Jeremiah outlasted five Judean kings. He, in fact, outlasted Judah. He authored both the Book of Jeremiah and Lamentations, each loaded with personal information about him. So we moderns know more about Jeremiah’s character and experience than perhaps any other Old Testament prophet save Moses.
I began writing the doomed novel, Jeremiah, with this vague plan in mind…
- Set it during the prophet’s last days while a captive of his own people in Egypt.
- Weave into the account, utilizing ingenius flashbacks, all of the great man’s 40-year-plus experience and numerous prophecies.
It didn’t work out.
About a year into the writing, it became clear that the novel’s scope, implied by its title, was simply too broad. Whatever I was writing was not Jeremiah. Fortunately, it also became clear that the combination of the 43rd Chapter of Jeremiah, a wealth of available info about Egyptian and Babylonian personalities and activities around 580 BC (roughly when Jeremiah arrived in Egypt) plus an amazing find in 1886 by British archaeologist William Flinders Petrie, provided more than enough potential drama, natural interest and perhaps even mystery to sustain a solid novel.
The clincher was Jeremiah’s last assignment, received via prophecy toward the end of his life in Tahpanhes, Egypt, six years after the fall of Jerusalem, beginning…
Take some large stones in your hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes…(Jer 43:8-11)
Jeremiah’s latter-day challenge became the central problem of the renamed novel, as I explain in detail in the following video…
You may, or may not, also be interested in visiting my new Youtube Channel about writing, InsideStories, and a nearly duplicate video channel at Vimeo.
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